The Way We Live: Sunday Mail column

So I’m staring at another birthday. This week I turn 38. WHAT? Wasn’t it just yesterday I was putting on my best acid wash jeans and waistcoat, glazing my perm in industrial strength hairspray and heading to Transformers to Wang-Chung the night away?   (Seriously for a period of time there in the early 90s my hair was so rock hard from hairspray it doubled as a bike helmet).

Still. Here I am. Staring at thirty-eight. I may be perm-free in 2010 but am I really any wiser? Twenty years ago I seemed to have more joy in my life. Possibly because I was wagging uni lectures and hanging out at the Rec Club to see the Riptides. But there was certainly a bigger focus on joy.

I heard something last week that made me stop and think. It was from Elizabeth Gilbert – the author of that mega-seller Eat Pray Love. Stop rolling your eyes. I know her book divided people into two camps. The couldn’t-put-it-down camp and the this-is-self-indulgent-drivel camp. Personally I liked it. And I like Gilbert. Any woman who decides she’s going to hang out in Rome for three months and just eat is my kinda gal. Anyway. So I’m watching a TV interview with Gilbert and she’s talking about how crazy her life has been post-Eat Pray Love. And then she said, “I’ve worked out I’m my best person when I have less on my plate.”

And for whatever reason that quote resonated with me.  Cause you know what? I’m drowning at the moment. I just can’t seem to get through my daily to do-list.  And I don’t know about you but the requests just keep coming.  Will I just read this primary school student’s 33,000-word novel? (Huh?) Will I organise this present? Will I volunteer on Friday? Will I turn up to this event? My immediate response is, “I’d love to but I really just can’t”. Weirdly, it comes out of my mouth as, “Of course I can.”

But when I’m stressed and my life is crazy busy, I’m not a great person to live with.  And I think Gilbert is right – for me anyway – I am my best person when I have less on my plate. I’m happier. Which in turns means I can give more. And instead of doing a half-assed job on a dozen things, I can give proper attention and care to say six. Okay, three.

Jo Bassett is the creator of Living Savvy, a lifestyle website that helps women achieve that work/life balance (see I asked Jo for her thoughts.

“In our world there is still kudos gained from being ‘busy’.  There is a misbelief that busy people are important people or doing important things. In my quest to live a savvy life I endeavour to live a life that is full and filling not busy, juggled and stressed.”

Full and filling not busy, juggled and stress. I can’t think of a better present to give myself this birthday.

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About Bec

Over the past 25 years Rebecca Sparrow has earned a living as a travel writer, a television publicist, a marketing executive, a magazine editor, a TV scriptwriter, a radio producer, a newspaper columnist and as an author.

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